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RICE REJIG

TT: What is the agriculture outlook for Jharkhand this year?

Singh: Mostly grim, particularly in Palamau, Garhwa and Latehar. Over 50 per cent paddy transplantation has not been possible yet owing to scanty rainfall

lIs rain deficit the issue?

No. Over the past two years, we get scanty rain during July and August when paddy saplings need heavy watering while monsoon arrives in real earnest during September and October when farms donít need it. Last year, Jharkhand got around 450mm rain in October. The seasonís pattern is changing

Given this scenario, what can be done?

As we canít dictate timings to the rain god, we need to change ourselves. Dry land crops need to be promoted. At BAU, we tell both paddy farmers and the state agriculture department to depart from traditional cultivating methods. Take up direct seeding methods and grow rice like wheat

Can paddy be directly sown everywhere?

Direct seeding is ideal for upland and medium upland areas. Geographically, our stateís gently sloping plateau is ideal for direct plantation of paddy

What should paddy farmers do now?

Complete direct seeding by July-end

Your preferred seeds?

Low duration type that mature in 120 days

What is the advantage of direct seeding?

Farmers can save at least 40 per cent cultivation costs and 50 per cent water. Labour cost in growing paddy seeds in nurseries and transplanting them in flooded fields is eliminated

Should farmers diversify to grow other kharif crops too instead of relying solely upon paddy?

Yes, this is what we keep on saying. Changing our priorities with prevailing weather conditions is a must. Grow rice, but also pulses, oilseeds, jowar, bajra and soya beans, which need less water

What about vegetables?

No. They need a lot of watering and hence, assured irrigation

Your take on water conservation.

Storage and recycling of water in every hamlet and at every home is needed. Also, supplementary irrigation via wells and ponds